Thursday, January 28, 2010

Methland - A Sobering Look at "Heartland" America and Methamphetamine Addiction

As the subtitle states, Nick Reding's new book Methland chronicles "The Death and Life of an American Small Town." The town in question is Olewein, Iowa, where rural, small town life has been ravaged by methamphetamine addiction and the criminality that comes with it. Representative of many economically depressed Midwestern towns, Olewein found itself nearly destroyed by a combination of factors which contributed to a sudden tremendous surge in meth use. The author states that in the early 1990’s, local meatpacking plants were being acquired by giant corporations such as Gillette and Tyson. These corporations, in turn, ousted the union, slashed wages drastically, and eliminated workers’ compensation and medical coverage, leading to a flight of workers and to a decrease in the population. While methamphetamine abuse had been present in Olewein before, it suddenly became economically attractive to manufacture “crank” and deal it.

Residents found that they could make more money through meth production than they could hope to earn legally. Home meth labs sprang up all over Olewein, creating toxic hazards to residents, particularly children. Crimes related to meth use, not typically seen before, caused further erosion in the quality of town life, and more drug addicts and criminals moved in, attracted by the depressed housing prices and the apparent lack of police control over the situation. The town was on a death spiral, but as the title indicates,  life has come back to Olewein. How this transpired makes for a very compelling, but harrowing true story.

Review by Evelyn Fischel

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Turning 50 Isn't So Bad

Fifty never looked so good! Join the 50 Book Challenge at Bernardsville Public Library for a fun way to challenge yourself to read 50 books in one year. This new program is designed to inspire you to finish those half-read books and to seek out interesting new material available at the library. Read any book of your choice! You may read fiction and nonfiction or listen to audiobooks, if you prefer. You may even include graphic novels. All you have to do is register for the program, pick up your reading log, and get started!

To make this as convenient as possible for you, reference librarian Karen Vaias has organized a kickoff party at 3 p.m. this Saturday, January 23, to be held in the library. Karen will explain the program at this time and help you set up your reading log. A selection of free books will be available and refreshments will also be served.

If you can't make the kickoff, please refer to the library's new 50 Book Challenge Web page. It is most comprehensive and informative. The Web page gives you great links to online resources and reading ideas, and you'll be able to print out your own reading log or create one online. Don't like to do things online? Just come into the library and register for the 50 Book Challenge at the circulation desk.

Although this is meant to be your own personal reading challenge, program participants will be invited to meet several times during the year for shared encouragement and discussion. If you achieve your goal of 50 books in 2010, your name will be entered into a drawing for prizes at year's end. Whatever your goal may be, this supportive program will help you attain it. Don't be afraid to turn "50."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Make A Difference

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service.  To honor his life's work toward social justice, equality and community service, Congress  in 1994 appointed the third Monday of every January as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, asking people to make this holiday "a day on, not a day off."  Learn more about the Rev. King, his life, and opportunities for volunteerism here.

Bernardsville Public Library, open today, has a display of books about the life and writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Biography area as well as at the circulation desk. Please feel to borrow any of these and other books about him in the Nonfiction wing.

If you are looking for volunteer opportunities close to home that you can continue short-term or throughout the year, please consider the library.  Bernardsville Public Library gratefully accepts volunteer assistance with computer classes, VITA tax assistance, ESL (English-as-a-second-language) instruction, book processing, children's activities, the Local History Room, and many other rewarding volunteer opportunities. Please stop by or call the library at 908-766-0118 to make a difference.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cod, Who Knew?

A fish that shaped world history is the subject of a fascinating book to be discussed by the library's book group, Memoirs and Coffee. The group will discuss Mark Kurlansky's Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World on Tuesday, January 26th, at 10:30 a.m. in the Community Room of Bernardsville Public Library. The book recounts the role this once prolific fish played in driving world exploration, national economies, wars, and culinary science. Kurlansky also describes the life cycle of cod and how it has been jeopardized by overfishing. Copies of the book are available at the circulation desk for those who wish to attend the meeting, which is open to the public.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Knitted Toys, Anyone?

Well, the gift-giving holidays have just ended, so that means it's time to start planning ahead for next December or sooner! Is there a new baby coming to your doorstep this year or a child's birthday looming in the future?  Give them what they want - toys! - but knit them yourself.  Bernardsville Public Library has the very knitting books you'll want to make great toy projects for children (as well as for your dog and cat.) The newest book, Itty-Bitty Toys, will be coming out on our shelf soon,

but, in the meanwhile, check out the books below for fun and adorable knitted projects. They are just the thing to do during the cold winter months upon us.